Miller Voted Rising Star Award Winner

Published: December 23, 2016 11:18 am EST

The Rising Star Award is given annually by the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) to an outstanding young horseman aged 35 or younger for early career achievements. These basic requirements do not preclude the young people from having a big year or three before getting the award – many of them prove themselves on smaller circuits before moving into the ‘spotlight’ situations to get on this award’s radar, and one driver (Jody Jamieson) had even won the World Driving Championship before being voted Rising Star.

Marcus Miller was the leading driver at the Chicago racing ovals before heading east, following the move of his father, top trainer Erv Miller. After improving his accomplishments for the last few years on the ‘right coast,’ in 2016 Marcus had his ‘breakout season’ at the North American level: over $5 million in sulky earnings, a victory in his very first Breeders Crown drive, behind the two-year-old pacing filly Someomensomewhere, and an acquired reputation as a driver who can get the most out of any horse he drives. These qualities led USHWA to vote Marcus Miller the Rising Star Award winner.

Miller, who went to the gate 2,685 times at 15 different tracks in 2016, was in the top ten in earnings at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Harrah’s Philadelphia, and the Meadowlands Racetrack, giving quality drives to quality horses – many of whom proved themselves capable of reading neither a tote board nor a racing program. For example, in winning two consecutive Grand Circuit races on October 8 at the Red Mile, Miller tallied first with Zane Hanover, returning $189.20 for a $2 ticket for his scattered backers, and then followed up 20 minutes later with Chip Walther at $84.80!

Miller has good-naturedly noted that he’d “rather be the King of the Favourites than the King of the Longshots,” but his ability of extracting the most talent out of a lightly-regarded trotter and pacer will surely lead to handling better stock as trainers catch on to his overall ability.

In winning the Rising Star Award, Marcus will share the Dan Patch Awards platform with his sister, Hannah, who earlier was announced as the North American Amateur Driver of the Year for the second season running.

With Marcus the rising star and Hannah the leading amateur, and David the overall driver of the year, it seems as if people named ‘Miller’ have a monopoly on these driving awards. But there is one more sulkysitting winner, and he’s not named Miller – but his last name does begin with an ‘M,’ and, like David Miller (the 1993 rising star, by the way), he is from the Buckeye State of Ohio.


Another driver to be honoured on awards night will be Aaron Merriman, who was the leading driver in North America in terms of wins (at press time, his year-end total should rival his personal mark of 874 wins, which was recorded last season, when he won his first USHWA honour). Driving a demanding schedule of day cards at the Meadows and night races at Northfield Park, the tireless Merriman will win his 2016 crown by over 150 victories.

Merriman is the winningest driver of the ‘2010’s decade’ with 4,680 victories in the last seven years, and, at the still-youthful age of 38, he has amassed 8,692 career victories, which ranks him 21st all-time and 14th among all active drivers.

Marcus Miller, Aaron Merriman, and Hannah Miller will all be feted at the ‘Night Of Champions,’ the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday, February 26 at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas. Information about the banquet and the entire weekend, which will also contain the annual meetings of USHWA, can be found on the communicators’ website, – including links for making hotel reservations at special rates at Planet Hollywood; banquet tickets; and congratulatory or acknowledgment ads in the keepsake Souvenir Banquet Journal, annually one of the best chronicles of a year in North American harness racing.


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